Healing the Divide

Here are some suggestions, which I'll be adding to continually, for healing the political/cultural divide in America. For context, please first read my blog post, "What We Can Do".

As you read these ideas, if you find yourself thinking, about any given item, "This won't work because…" please stop yourself and just move on to the next suggestion. The purpose of this page is to serve as kind of virtual brainstorming session. I'm soliciting ideas from many of my friends, so I don't even agree with everything I'm listing. If you have ideas of your own, please enter them into the comments, and if I like them, whether or not I agree with them, I'll add them to this post.

If you find yourself thinking that none of these ideas can possibly work, or that the divide is not really a problem, that's fine, too. Just devote yourself to the political actions I suggested in the main blog post, or to actions of your own devising. The important thing is that we all be doing whatever we can in a regular, yet sustainable way.

Finally, I want to make it clear that I am not advocating political compromise or any kind of turning away from political activism. Instead, I'm talking about apolitical action in addition to our usual political efforts.

Here we go!

  1. If you live in a "mixed" neighborhood (conservatives and liberals!) start some kind of neighborhood group that can include both. A quilting circle, a book club, a home repair "barn-raising" type group, etc.
  2. If you have some skill you can share with kids (chess? science? poetry? etc.) approach your local schools or libraries about starting a club or class. Make yourself available to kids of all political persuasions as an example of a cool, smart, nonthreatening, grownup liberal.
  3. If you attend a liberal church, find some way to establish a relationship with a conservative church. I doubt you'll be able to manage, say, joint services or Bible studies, given your theological differences, but how about prayer partners, or a combined choir (singing only songs both sides can agree on, of course), or a monthly after-church potluck, which each church hosting on alternate months?
  4. If you're a writer, devote some portion of your output to celebrating community and interdependence in a way that will be palatable and compelling to readers on both sides of the divide. If this is already what you mostly write about, do just a little more. If it's not, then add just a bit of it to your usual repertoire.
  5. If you're a news editor, devote just a bit more space to positive articles about successful collaborative societal efforts, especially intentional bridgings of the political divide.
  6. If you're a billionaire, consider launching businesses that contribute to the strengthening of our societal fabric, even if they have to operate at a bit of a loss.
  7. Make one new conservative friend.
  8. Read some of their news sites, in order to gain an understanding of what they think is the problem with us.
  9. If you're an existing social networking company or startup, or an organization with an interest in facilitating online engagement between liberals and conservatives, consider implementing this idea of mine for a new social network.
  10. Join Braver Angels, a group devoted to fostering empathy and respectful conversation between the two parties.
  11. Join one of these programs run by the National Institute for Civil Discourse, whose founding chairmen were George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Please add your own ideas to the comments!